cover image One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

Scaachi Koul. Picador, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-12102-8

Simultaneously uproarious and affecting, the personal essays in Buzzfeed contributor Koul’s debut explore the nuances of life as a first-generation Canadian with Indian parents, from phobias, guilt trips, and grudges to the drama of interracial dating. She provides insight into the experience of traveling to her parents’ homeland, undergoing the inverse of their assimilation, and the conflicting desire to maintain and amend cultural traditions (for example, she dislikes weeklong wedding celebrations with alcohol restrictions). She discerns the “shadism” of India’s caste system and its more benign cultural quirks, like every woman being given the title of “aunt” (“Mom, why do you have forty sisters? Was your mother a sea turtle?”). There is an occasional essay of sheer slapstick, as when Koul describes getting stuck inside a coveted garment in a boutique dressing room (“I flew too close to the sun with this skirt,” she remarks sadly), but she also reflects poignantly on race, sexism, and body image issues. She includes a surprisingly sympathetic judgment of misogynist internet trolls and a polemic against rape culture that contains the unfortunate phrase “the first time I was roofied.” The specifics of Koul’s life are unique, but the overarching theme of inheritance is universal, particularly the vacillation between struggling against becoming one’s parents and the begrudging acceptance that their ways might not be so bad. Koul’s deft humor is a fringe benefit. Agent: Ron Eckel, Cooke Agency. (May)